15 Sep : Paris’ Eiffel Tower and its immediate surroundings underneath were evacuated last evening after an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat, the French capital’s police headquarters said.
French media reported that a second tourist hub – the Saint-Michel subway station near Notre Dame Cathedral – had also been evacuated following a similar threat.
A Paris police spokesman said he had no information about the reports on the Saint-Michel station, which was the target of a terrorist attack in 1995 that killed eight and injured scores of people.
Across town, about 2,000 people were cleared from the 324-metre Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine River, and police were checking it for suspicious objects, the spokesman at the police headquarters said. He declined to give his name, citing department policy.
Eiffel Tower security services made the decision to clear out tourists and workers following the threat, the spokesman said.
Despite the scare at the tower, tourists and curious Parisians continued to mill around the surrounding sidewalks, and traffic continued to circulate nearby. Several police trucks were posted under the tower, and officers stood guard.
The tower is France’s most popular monument, and 6.6 million people visited it last year.
Bomb scares are frequent in Paris, and the city has experienced terrorism firsthand. Algerian Islamic insurgents bombed the Saint-Michel station on 25th July, 1995, killing eight people and injuring 150.
It was the first attack in a campaign of violence that terrorized Paris subway commuters for a time. Gas cooking canisters loaded with nails, sometimes hidden in garbage cans, were used in many of the bombings.